Saturday, November 30, 2013

compliments to boost my week

I got the nicest compliment a week ago. It was left on my answering machine (do people still have those, or is it just me?) so I could've saved it to listen to again to boost my confidence or used it as leverage later (*snicker*) ...had I wanted to. It was from our friendly neighbourhood youth pastor (yes, he calls himself that!), mentioning how they were less a leader for Small Group that evening. His message went something like this: "Kiersten is sick and won't be able to make it tonight. So Kim and I were thinking of who was the coolest junior high mom and we thought of you!"

The Coolest Junior High Mom.

Oh yes.

That's me.

I did note that he did specify, "Junior High" and not  "all of the whole youth group moms", but that's okay. I also did note that he was asking me if I'd be willing to fill in for a position that was needed in just three hours.

He laughed when I talked to him and said, "I could just be saying that or I could be telling the truth! After all, you were the only mom out there night sliding with the youth!"

I grinned. That's true. I did. This past summer, for the second year in a row, I bravely donned a bathing suit and put myself in front of many peers and hundreds of teenagers as we went to Cultus Lake Waterpark for their Youth Night Sliding Event. I decided that I wasn't going to think about my overweight body that looked almost-middle-aged, and just go and have fun and feel young again! And I had a blast! Just our youth pastor and I went out with our youth on the slides; the others parent-leaders sat together and chatted. (sliding seemed more fun to me, since I was paying the entrance fee anyways. Besides I suck at small talk with people I don't know well.)

The Coolest Junior High Mom.

It's a silly title and doesn't really mean anything, and maybe I shouldn't take it to heart or take great happiness from it, but I do. God knew I needed to hear it and it made my week.

Friday, November 29, 2013


My kids had their Parent Teacher Interviews this month. I approach these with some apprehension. I know my children have struggles in some areas, but you never really know what to expect. Will they be struggling more than you knew? What if it's a bad interview? I have a bit of fear, but that could be from my past school history: I struggled in grade five (we just moved to the west coast so there was a lot of isolation, loneliness and exclusion that I was dealing with, plus a lot of homesickness.) and I failed grade six and so I worry about my children going through those very bleak years as well. But God keeps reminding me that their stories are not a repeat of mine. They will have their own troubles, yes, but also their own triumphs, that are unique to them. And that's an encouraging thing!

We always go to the Interviews anticipating what will be said, but my Hunny likes to cut to the chase and will mention the things we think the teachers will say. Such as; yes, we know that Kai doesn't like to do his work, and yes, Bryn can not sit still even at home and he talks and talks and talks, and yes, Abi needs to speak up more. (I think he likes to throw them off!) Sometimes it's nice to be completely surprised!

Our visits with each teacher went better than expected! Our children are in great classrooms with women who really care about them. Other than his messy writing, B is doing great. He even sits still and listens well! (something we are working on at home.) Abi is doing much better too, and participates well and just seems like a different person than the one who first started grade seven in September. (I had to come in to see Mrs. C in Sept to talk over the struggles that we saw in A, and it looks like we have found some great results!) We are so pleased that her teacher sees the change like we do!

I think that Kai's teacher interview went the best, though. He's always had supportive teachers who have encouraged us in helping him reach goals (which, of course, are school goals, not his, so they are often met with resistance!) and I have loved them. But this teacher surprised me! I wasn't too sure how he would be this year, with missing his best friend and with the school work struggles last year (something that seems to be building), but he is doing well. He is doing his work and meeting expectations (although he needs to work on his multiplication table memorization) and she said that he is doing much better than he did at the beginning of the year, which is such a relief to hear. She even named things that are positive and strengths in him --- like his passions and his good nature. And that makes a mom's heart feel good! Instead of saying what he's not good at and needs to work on (well, some of that was said as well), she pictured him as a boy full of character and energy and creativity to us. I am so grateful to her for that. Sometimes it's easy for us to see the list of things we need to work on (like attitude or selfishness or self control) that we don't see the good in the "bad behaviour".

One thing we've always struggled with is finding a punishment that works for him. We've taken away his Lego, his DS, his computer privileges (all very important to him), and he'll be upset and angry for the first 20 minutes, but then he gets past it and isn't bothered anymore. We've held out for a week, all the while realizing that he's doing fine without these things. He's not bothered that he's without his possessions! We can see that as frustrating (and it is!) and stubborn, and it leaves us with wondering how to effectively parent. But when we told his teacher, she laughed and said it was because he's creative and can find some other way to occupy himself.

Creative? H'mmm...hadn't thought of that. Yes, that is a positive thing!  Him not giving in and being stubborn can be so difficult for us to work with ....but it's that type of personality that doesn't give in to peer pressure and leads in confidence.

We are pleased with our children so far in school, and are very thankful for their teachers. (their report cards come home in two weeks...we'll see how we feel then, though. hahaha.)

I had to laugh at this one common theme with all of my children, though. Apparently they all have this "Meh attitude". Bryn has it when it comes to writing and any art project. He just scribbles messily as if saying, "meh, this looks fine!" Kai is the same way when it comes to most school work and had even gone up to Mrs B and said, "I didn't do my homework last night!" She'll respond, "oh really? why not?" He'll shrug, "I don't know!" Meh.  ((good to see his confidence. This made me laugh out loud. When I didn't do my homework, I avoided the teacher and if I had to admit it wasn't done, I usually made up an excuse!)) Abi will do the minimum amount of work needed on a paper, as if thinking, "Meh, this is good enough," her teacher told us. So she says, "Meh, not so much," and hands the paper back! hahaha!


It made me laugh.  All of them with this condition.

I know where they get it from. Oh yes. *cough*cough* From me. I have a big "meh" attitude! I will put off things. I don't get bothered by small things. I even love the word! (I want to get this t-shirt from Zazzle!)

I guess sometimes having an easy going personality can come out as lazy and uncooperative. Oops. My bad.  I'll need to work on that.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

new referrals

So that's what it feels like to advocate for your child.

I feel weary. And emotional. But that could be unrelated; after all, my thyroid is all wonky and I have a sinus cold.

A few weeks ago, one of Rhys' preschool teachers suggested doing an updated ASQ. She did two of them during class time, and I filled out the ASQ-SE for 60 Month/5 Year. Filling those out feel make me feel so sad. It's hard to see the limitations that your child has right in front of you. But I was surprised, and also relieved, to see that Ms. Harmony had a few different results than I did. When I filled out The Ages & Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional, my results (I found out that the scoring guidelines were written on the back on the questionnaire) showed him "at risk". Actually, the recommendations on the back were to "refer the child for a mental health evaluation." Which sounds much scarier than 'seek a second opinion' or 'refer to doctor'. Thankfully, the result in class were just fine! What a relief! He is totally on par with his peers on a social/emotional level. So either he only "acts out" at home, or his behavior is actually considered 'normal'. Needless to say, I've been paying more attention to it at home now. 

Interestingly enough, I answered "most of the time" to the question on whether he could settle himself down after periods of exciting activity. Ms. Harmony checked off "rarely or never".  (I can see that now if I really look at it. Yes, he does take some time to unwind when he gets excited and giddy.)  To the question "does your child cry, scream, or have tantrums for long periods of time", I responded "most of the time", and again, she said "rarely or never". (oh, this boy can be very determined when he is upset and wants something. But in some cases, yes, I guess he can be distracted to something else. Sometimes.) In class, he moves from activities just fine, and loves to explore new places, which are two things I had never noticed at home.  So my concerns are not a reality in preschool right now, and what a wonderful thing to realize!

Ms. Harmony also did a regular ASQ on him, which is for a child 57 Months through 66 Months (good grief, I'd be happy if they stopped using weeks and months after 6 weeks and just went to years in stages! It's too much counting and figuring out for my little math-challenged head!) ----he was 64 Months when this test was done (end of October)  His last ASQ through IDP was done at 10 months old, when he scored above the at-risk level for everything except gross motor, where he was not rolling over or crawling or pulling to stand yet. I do have a Gessell Developmental Assessment report done at 17 Months old, but I am thinking of emailing our former IDP Consultant for the results of the one done at 3 years old, since I can't seem to find it. It would be nice to see how things compare now to then. Has he gained or lost? Did we not have any concerns then?

In the 60 Month ASQ, he scored low for Communication (not surprising, since he was in ST...and I am frustrated that he was phased out and forgotten by SESLP.), Gross Motor (not surprising, considering he always has), Problem Solving (which is sad, since he was in range at 17 Months old)  He is on par for his peers for his Fine Motor (actually, his teacher was impressed with his drawing and cutting skills. Oh yeah! *brag*brag*) and his Personal Social. (just like his earlier SE said!)  The results suggest that "further assessment with a professional may be needed."  (that sounds much nicer than saying he needs a mental health eval!)

His teacher said that she could put a referral in for us to the Langley Child Development Centre (you may remember our conversation here), and so I got a phone call from a supervisor there. That was frustrating! I had to explain to her all the things that were a concern about Rhys, but how do I explain it? It's not obvious. He acts, behaves and talks differently, but how do I put small incidents into words so that it doesn't look like an over-reacting mother? I want to say "don't you see this? that isn't typical, is it? what is going on?'

I thought the SCD would be able to help me---and in a way, they have. But not in the way I expected. I had hoped that they'd have Rhys come in and they'd assess him and they'd get me the resources I needed. But since he doesn't need any support in the classroom (which is a good thing), they aren't going to open a case for him.


I understand. And I am happy his needs aren't glaring. And I do appreciate that they aren't going to waste my time and raise my hopes, but I also feel deflated. I guess my hopes were already raised by my own doing.

The Supervisor did give me a few suggestions though. The first was to get our pediatrician to refer us to Sunny Hill, in Vancouver. But seeing as this hasn't been the top of Dr T's list, I'm going to skip her and get our Family Doctor to do it. (she has offered to look into Rhys already, to see if she can come up with anything)   The wait list there is likely a year long as well, but it's a start.  I had never heard of Sunny Hill when she mentioned it, but I recognize it now from the fundraising they do. It is a centre at the Children's Hospital that deals with disabilities in children and youth, for rehabilitation and development. They will do full assessments and have a have full staff to cover everything. So it may be a good place to check out.

The other suggestion was to speak to our principal at the children's school (and where R will attend K next year). I'm not too sure what to talk to her about thought. I have nothing to bring in to her, other than ASQs say that he is delayed. I don't know what kind of support he will need or what options they have available. So I am putting this off until the new year.

 She did also suggest that maybe we'd like to have a developmental assessment done on him privately (she gave me two names to check out), but she warned me that could cost anywhere from $1000 to $2500. Eek! Yeah, no. Thanks though, but we don't have that kind of money to use on something like this. (my friend just told me last week that she and her husband were looking into that for their daughter, who has ADHD and maybe some other issues, and it was going to cost them $5000! Yikes!) So I'm praying that our assessment can be done at the Children's Hospital, where it won't cost us anything.

Sometimes I look at Rhys and see that things are okay. He's playing well with other kids. He does regular things. And I let myself see that maybe it's all in my head. But then I am reminded that this has always been there, in the back, and we've always kept it there, but his delayment has been there in various forms since birth. And I am frustrated that I can't pin it down and I don't know what to do.

Last week, on our drive to the school to pick up the Olders, I was going over colours with the Youngers again. I do that every now and then. I'll tell them at each stop light that "green means go and red means stop" and then I get them to tell me which colour is showing. It's fun when they get it and can tell me when to go! For a while, in the summer, it seemed as though Rhys was starting to get it, but I can see how it's all been forgotten now. At each and every stop (which happened to be red for each one), which aren't that far apart, just a few blocks, I would ask again, and at each stop he would not remember. I can understand needing to remind him, but he should've been able to guess or start to recall by the second or third stop. And he couldn't. It was tough. Even he could tell! He said to me, "I don't know why I can't 'member!", with a shake of his head. I just tried to smile and encouragingly said, "that's ok, you'll get it soon!" 

Eden is starting to get it. She has Pink and Orange and Green figured out a good 90% of the time! *smile*

But he'll get it soon. I hope.

Friday, November 22, 2013

present difficulties and future joy

I knew it was out before they even called me at home. I had been spending all week on the couch feeling extremely exhausted and in pain. I just could not pull myself together. But it was the third day of inactivity and inability that spoke volumes of my situation; when I felt a heavy depression descend upon me and I felt so emotional. I haven't felt this depressed in years and it surprised me, to be honest; it happened so suddenly.

I had just had my bloodwork done a few days earlier, so I was expecting the doctor's office to call me. I was hoping they'd just call into the pharmacy for a new prescription change, as they have been lately,  but since my levels are so far out (than typical for me), the doctor wanted me to come in. She wanted to determine if there was anything happening, such as, say, a pregnancy. Yeah. No. It's just my body being my body. All confused. Boo.

Dumb thyroid.

Unfortunately, the new dose hasn't helped at all. I may not be as depressed, but I still am absolutely fatigued, which means my body aches are back. Fun.

I wonder if I'll ever get past this. My Love is hopeful and thinks one day I'll be well again, but I don't share his outlook. (which is tough since I'm usually the Optimist) I just don't know. It's so easy to get into a negative mindset when things are messed up, and right now all I feel and all I remember are the many past days, weeks, where I haven't been able to accomplish anything in my day, and my history where I've struggled with this. Where I spend most of it on the couch in a semi-sleep-awake-state. It's tough. How do you remain optimistic in continual days like that?

I was reading an obituary recently of a woman who was described as having an autoimmune disease and in pain, but "she never complained or let it define her."  And no, reading obituaries aren't morbid. I am curious about these people. About their lives, their families, things that others will remember about them. Most are elderly and their lives were so much different than ours are today. Most immigrated from war-torn countries, lived during hard depressing times, struggled with loss, and their stories are interesting and importatant. One day, my life will be summerized in a few sentances. I wonder what my family will write? That I struggled with loss, but never complained? That I dealt with health issues but endured with strength? That I taught my family to persevere with joy?

I'm not feeling very joyful or strong lately. It's been a long, yet blurry, three weeks.

I was reading a post this morning on Ann Voskamp's blog, Holy Experience, titled "How the get through when you want to give up." It was actually a post written by Jon Bloom on giving thanks in all circumstances. I read it, skimming a lot of the words, but didn't really take it in. I feel like I've read stuff like this before and it's done nothing so far to help me. It's not that I don't believe it. I do. But somehow believing isn't always living, is it? So I read things and nothing changes.

But the last part has stuck with me for a few hours now. Jon Bloom says: "How do you give thanks in all circumstances? There's only one way: Jesus' way. Look to the joy set before you. Look to the joy! If the future joy Jesus promises is real and you believe Him, there is no circumstance that can steal your thanksgiving."

Yeah, I know. That can feel like just more words sometimes, can't it? But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I just had to re-word it.  The Future Joy he is speaking about are the promises God has given us in the Bible. Such as complete forgiveness of our sins (Romans 6:23), all of our needs provided (Philippians 4:19), one day we will be raised from the dead and never die again (1 Corinthians 15:52, 53), we will receive all the grace we need (2 Corinthians 9:8), He will complete the works He has started in us (this one gives me hope! Philippians 1:6), someday soon we will see Jesus and be with him (2 Corinthians 5:8) and be like him (1 John 3:2), we will know complete joy (Psalm 16:11 and Psalm 43:4)...and many more!

So basically, focus on the promises that He has given to us. Focus on the Future Joy, not the present difficulties. This is where you find your joy.

"Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy." John 16:22

Now, THAT is something to look forward to!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Joy Cometh

When I struggled with depression and fatigue and toddlers, I realized that my joy was stolen.  I listened to the music and I sang and I read the books and I quoted Bible passages, but I was still grasping for Joy.

As I searched for Joy, I found myself drawn to the word. The action. The desired result. The freedom that came in its release.

I don't fully have the joy that I started out with. But I am getting there and I feel I am on a good path.  I will claim that fruit of the Spirit once more and be filled and overflowing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

fall back!

Don't forget! It's Daylight Savings Time again. Make sure you put your clock back an hour before you go to bed tonight!  

As excited as I am about the idea of getting an extra hour of sleep (theoretically) I will likely waste it somewhere anyways, and I think DST is a bad idea anyways.  However, with saying that, I am happy to see that the sky won't be dark by 5pm anymore, but 6pm. Yay!
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